Between Books: Why freelance writers need to work on their love lives

from iStockPhoto
from iStockPhoto

I was single once, and for many years, so I don’t really want to go around nagging people about their love lives. What I will tell you, aspiring freelancers, is that if you don’t have a live-in partner, there are certain things you’re going to have to work extra hard at:

1. Health insurance: This is the biggest impediment to freelance life, for sure. I went on COBRA when I left my job, which meant I got to keep my high-quality insurance for 18 months for the low, low price of $650 per month. That seemed okay to me when I had just gotten two big book checks; less okay when funds dwindled. I’m not saying this is why my boyfriend and I moved in together, but it sure motivated us to move more quickly. The day after we moved, we went right to City Hall and got domestic-partnered so I could get on his insurance plan. Now the $40 or so per month feels basically free. (In fact it kind-of is because he just pays that bill; then again, I pay the cable bill.)

2. Wake-up time: This may prove less of a problem for you than for me, depending on your circadian rhythms. I’m a night person, so my schedule eventually migrated later and later in the day until I was working until 2 a.m. and sleeping until noon. This feels much less possible when my partner’s alarm goes off at 7:30 a.m. so that he can go to his office job. Now I get up with him and have time to meditate, work out, and catch up on a little TV before my official work day begins at 10.

3. Showers and real clothes: It’s easy to go feral for days when you aren’t seeing other humans at all. I spent quite a few stretches of days in my pajamas, forgoing showers (environmentally friendly!) when I lived alone. I’ve regressed a little lately after buying new pajama pants with which I am obsessed, but most days I try to get in the shower no later than when he texts to say he’s coming home from work. Nothing wrong with occasional pajama days, but it does encourage a certain dullness and sloth over time that can creep into your work habits.

4. A contained work day: There’s at least as much danger of letting your work spill into all hours of your day as there is danger of not working enough. We eat together, which means work time is over by 6:30 p.m. at the latest. (Earlier if I haven’t showered yet.)

5. Enforced bedtime: We also almost always go to bed at the same time — we don’t have to, of course, but his bedtime signals to me that it’s late, and that if I want to get up with him as usual, I better go, too.

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